Political Action: Many boro GOP candidates face petition challenges for office

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This procedure has been more prevalent in New York state than in other states. It has been used as a vehicle by the official party organizations at the county and state levels to discourage insurgents from challenging the organization’s candidates selection. It is also used when there are inter-party fights for control of the party, such as what is now occurring in the Queens Republican Party. There have been a series of petition challenges against organization candidates filed by insurgents led by the Haggerty brothers. These challenges pertain mainly to the party positions for district leaders.

Recently, there were city Board of Election hearings regarding these matters. The organization petitions were defended by Elizabeth Berney, a former Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, and assisted by Queens Republican Party Executive Director Daniel Egers. Most of the challenges were dismissed by the senior board members who were hearing these cases.

Several of these cases, however, are being appealed to the state Supreme Court by the insurgents, including action against the petitions of Jay Golub, the organization candidate running against Bart Haggerty for Republican district leader in the 28th State Assembly District. Court actions are also being taken against the petitions of organization candidate Frank Messano, who is running for re-election as the organization district leader in the 30th Assembly District. He is running against Tony Nunziato.

The female candidate for district leader in that district, who is also campaigning as an organization candidate, is Rosemary Iacavone. She is running against Joanne Mugno, who is reported to be running with the support of the Haggertys. In the 25th Assembly District, organization incumbent Steven Graves is being challenged by insurgent Howard Duffy.

What could be considered an important aspect of these party primaries is in the 28th Assembly District. If Bart Haggerty should win the district leadership primary against Golub, it probably means the insurgency against the Queens Republican county organization will continue. If Golub wins, it will be a significant victory over the insurgency by Republican County Chairman Phil Ragusa and his regular organization.

On the Democratic Party side, there is a court challenge being mounted against Robert Schwartz by Marc Leavitt, who is also running against Borough President Helen Marshall. It is rumored Leavitt is supported by the Democratic county organization as a way of cutting into Schwartz’s votes and diminishing his chances of winning the primary against Marshall. Schwartz needed 4,000 signatures to get on the ballot. He submitted 9,000 to the city Board of Elections, which is quite an accomplishment without the support of the Democratic county organization.

Gov. David Paterson recently issued a proclamation calling for a special election Sept. 15 to replace former Democratic Assemblyman Tony Seminerio in the 38th Assembly District. Within hours after the order was issued, though, he recalled the document. Various legal sources believe it is illegal for the governor to do so, considering it would be illegal for him to sign a bill passed by the state Legislature and then change his mind and publicly nullify his signing of the bill, or for Seminerio to submit his resignation from the Assembly, change his mind a day later and publicly state his resignation is no longer valid.

Mostly, once a legal document is issued by government officials, it carries the force of law. Candidates have been preparing for the Sept. 15 special election. In the meantime, the people of the 38th Assembly District do not have anyone to represent them.

The petition challenges to the Conservative Party citywide candidates has ended, since the general objections to these petitions were not followed up with specifications.

Updated 6:33 pm, October 10, 2011
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